What is a Plumber?

Also known as: Commercial Plumber, Service Plumber, Residental Plumber, Drain Technician, Journeyman Plumber.

A plumber is someone who installs and maintains pipes in our homes and businesses. These pipes need to be installed and maintained for potable water, drainage, irrigation and sewage, as well as other uses. Plumbers can be involved in hands-on work or may work in a design capacity, drafting blueprints and helping make the installation process more efficient. This is a profession with an extensive number of possible career paths. Some of the best paying jobs are in the more unusual specialities, since there is less competition.

This can be a very rewarding career, as evidenced by survey data that indicates that licensed professionals in the field tend to remain in the profession for their entire career. Many even continue part-time, well past the usual retirement age, helping the next generation by providing apprenticeships and learning opportunities.

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What does a Plumber do?

Someone interested in becoming a plumber would be interested to know that the stereotypical job as a residential plumber is only a small portion of the available career opportunities for an experienced professional.

An expert in plumbing is aware of building regulations and safety standards and works to make sure these standards are upheld. Legal expertise can also be an aspect of plumbing, since the laws regulating this trade vary depending on where you live, and can be difficult for a layperson to understand. Testing pipes for leakage using air pressure and other gauges, and also the ability to construct new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring and threading pipes are some of the other more involved aspects of plumbing.

Plumbers often work right alongside architects, as they can contribute valuable knowledge about the best positions for wall passage and fixture locations, saving the architect valuable time and avoiding expensive mistakes.

How to become a Plumber

Regulations vary, depending on where you live, but completing a plumbing course in trade school followed by an apprenticeship is probably the most common route to becoming a licensed professional. The length of time it takes to begin a new career in plumbing is difficult to define because every case is different, but a career arc of four to six years from beginning training to working as full-fledged plumber would be typical.

However, this profession tends to be one where the learning doesn't really ever end, and experienced plumbers that have been in the field for twenty years will learn new methods and aspects of the profession as the need arises. Job satisfaction is high within in the industry, and this might be one reason why. Odd hours, long hours, weekends, and holidays spent working are almost a given in many if not most plumbing jobs. Good physical condition is also a valuable asset for someone considering this as a possible career.

Less than ten percent of licensed plumbers are women, but this statistic has been changing (albeit gradually) over the last twenty years. Many opportunities exist for women, especially where government contracts are involved.

This is a challenging career, best suited to people who are motivated, hard-working and patient. Good customer service skills and an outgoing personality are also important assets for a residential professional that needs the trust and return business of his or her clients.

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Further Reading

  • Meet Jack The Plumber/ Philosopher

    Forgoing college in lieu of learning a trade isn’t about embracing mediocrity; it’s just plain common economic sense, particularly in light of the current employment dynamic.

  • Day In The Life Of A Commercial Plumber

    A typical day in the life of a commercial plumber will include between 8-10 hours of work time every day, with the average workweek being between 4- 5 days.

  • How Much Do Plumbers Make?

    What plumbers get paid depends on how much experience they have, where they work, and who they work for.

  • Mike Bloomberg: Skip College, Become A Plumber

    Bloomberg, himself a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Business School, pointed out that plumbers make a good living and don't have to deal with paying off huge college loans.

  • How To Become A Plumber

    Plumbing has become one of the most popular skilled trades in Canada, and with good reason: the days are always different, there’s plenty of work available, and the pay is generally great.

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